Maestro Morley saves Es from Hull hell
Hull 26 Esher 27
National League 1 Saturday March 25
Written by Richard Spiller
A last-gasp penalty from Sam Morley snatched victory for Esher, keeping alive their hopes of survival.
The fly-half's magical left foot has so often been crucial to his side and never more so than on Saturday's trip to the north-east, knowing victory was imperative to avoid the drop.
Yet Es came within moments of allowing Hull to grab a first victory of a campaign which has seen them marooned in the basement throughout.
Trailing by two points with time running out, the visitors were grateful to the prolific Morley for hitting the target to lift them out of the relegation zone. They are just three points clear of Taunton – heavily beaten by leaders Rams – with three matches left, the first Saturday's home date against Bishop's Stortford for which there is free admission. That is followed by another long trip Darlington Mowden Park before hosting Rams.
Hull got off to the ideal start when Timoci Waqadau stormed in for the opening try on six minutes, scrum-half Sam Bullock responding to make it 5-5 as they sides battled away in heavy rain. Reece Dean put the hosts back in front on 16 but wing Harri Lang pounced on a dropped pass to race over from deep and Morley converted.
A brace of penalties ensured Hull were 16-12 up by the interval, Es getting the second half off to a promising note as they struck through No 8 Ben Atkins, although the extras were missed to leave the gap only a point.
The nip and tuck nature of the game would continue throughout, Dean's smart feed enabling Mike Adlard to score under the posts and send Hull ahead again. The visitors, knowing defeat would almost certainly condemn them to the drop, had replacement forward Afolabi Fosagbon to thank for keeping them in the game by driving over on the hour, Morley converting to put his side 24-23 up.
But Es were caught offside, Dean's successful kick putting the hosts in front by two points with 15 minutes remaining.
In a taut finale, Es needed to defend well to prevent Adlard going over for a try which would have effectively killed them off and reward came as a charge upfield resulted in a penalty which league top-scorer Morley dispatched for victory.
Games to come (home in bold) – Sat April 1: Bishop's Stortford (free admission); Sat 15: Darlington MP; Sat 22: Rams.
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